SummaryIn an ever-changing environment, Tara Brelinsky shows how homeschooling families have the flexibility to provide the best options for our child’s education.
It was after dusk on a less than familiar highway.
I was struggling to navigate between the construction cones and concrete barriers. Rain drops pummeled the windshield at an ever-increasing speed. My heart pounded in my head as I approached a fork in the road.
Traffic and confusion steered me to the right, but I should have been bearing left. Then, just as my stress level reached panic-mode, the GPS said, “Recalculating.”
Some days, life can feel like that car trip. Decisions must be made when the path ahead is unclear. Obstacles, like finances and personal temperaments, narrow the choices. The ticking clock propels us forward when we’d rather pull over. And sometimes our decisions point us in the wrong direction.
Home School Advantage
Everyone faces this kind of nerve-wracking situation from time to time, especially parents. However, as home schoolers, we have a distinct advantage. Home schooling families have the ability and flexibility to recalculate on demand.
Whether we’re facing a major life event (moving, illness or the addition of a new child) or an educational dilemma (curriculum, learning disability or behavior), home schooling affords us the freedom to change course in real time. We don’t need to wait on a hierarchy of officials to weigh in before we act. We see a need and steer our course to meet it.
When Life Changes
When a life change throws off the schedule or necessitates a whole new plan, home schoolers rise to the occasion. Military families don’t worry about finding a new school system to enroll in every time they relocate. Taking time off to manage an illness, welcome a baby or just enjoy some travel doesn’t mean that a child must be held back. Home schools relocate, pause or come along for the ride.
Home schoolers can take advantage of field trip opportunities and participate in current events without extensive pre-planning. For example, when I received a last minute email about a pro-life rally being held at our legislature, I didn’t hesitate to commit our help.
I knew we could easily make up the half-day of missed lessons later in the week. Plus, I recognized the greater educational value to be gained by engaging my children in our local political process in real time.
Educational challenges in the home school give rise to creative solutions rather than end in defeat. When the standard curriculum is a poor fit for a child with special needs or a learning disability, it is best overcome through tailored lessons. Home schooling parents shift gears or remap the journey while maintaining the same destination.
I discovered that one of my teenagers hadn’t understood a math concept. Rather than seek help, the child skipped the daily, independent work. Of course, without a firm grasp of the foundational concepts, he was completely toppled by the later lessons which built on the previous ones.
As soon as the problem came to light, we tackled it head-on. Even though my student was well into the grade year, we turned the book back to lesson one and started again, together. We reviewed the concepts he’d grasped, studied those he hadn’t, and ultimately succeeded in completing the subject.
As teacher/parent, I had the ability to discern the individual need of my child and respond appropriately. In this instance, it was not necessary to hold the child back completely nor was the algebra course finished with a failing grade.
The Flexibility of Seton
Seton offers flexibility, too. When my high schooler scores a low grade on a test or essay, she has the choice (in some subjects) of going back and redoing the work. She isn’t locked into a poor grade, with no incentive to review her errors and correct her mistakes. This makes sense because the real goal is to master the material, not just pass the exam.
Additionally, Seton allows home schoolers to set their own schedule. Families have a full year to complete a course and they aren’t hemmed into the traditional (September to June) calendar. In my household that means starting new grades in March or April and working through the summer months. On this schedule, we take two-week breaks between the semesters, celebrate the full 12 days of Christmas and liberally include social get-togethers.
The Highways of Life
Perhaps even more importantly, the advantages of home schooling extend far beyond grades K through 12. When we (as a family) tackle obstacles head-on, implement creative solutions to problems and correct our mistakes, we teach our children that success is possible in spite of the personal challenges.
Admittedly, I was at the mercy of my GPS during my drive. Without knowledge of the area or a physical map of the roads, I had to trust that my device could put me back on track. And as real world examples have proven, it could have led me over a cliff!
As a home schooler, I have the advantage of knowing that maps exist. I know that I can find the right map, read it, and figure out my own way home when necessary.
There’s no disputing that this home schooling journey is fraught with twists, turns and bumps along the route. Home schoolers are not immune to the stress and challenges that are part of every family’s life. However, as primary directors of our children’s education, we are best equipped to navigate the path that will steer them toward their final destination (educationally and eternally).